Freshers’ survival: An interview with the Starving Student

The idea of having to cook your own meals can be daunting to many, especially if you are unqualified in the kitchen. Coming to University is a huge step in many students’ lives, and the realisation that you will no longer be blessed with your parent’s cooking can be quite a shock.

Whilst many resort to takeaways and meal deals throughout their first few months at uni, others find themselves becoming quite the kitchen aficionado. As the stark reality of solo-living kicks in, you will find that the once terrifying lay of the land – the land being your hall’s kitchen – is now your second home. Utensils that previously seemed they would require an engineering degree are now your best friend, and the likelihood of you snapping a picture of your most recent meal and captioning it ‘gourmet’ is on the rise.

As your confidence grows, you may be thinking, “how else can I expand my newfound cheffing skills?”. BBC GoodFood and ready meals will only take you so far, so we have brought in the expert – a recent graduate and inspiration to many, The Starving Student. We were lucky enough to interview Lauren and provide an exclusive tell-all for the students of NTU.

The Starving Student – Lauren Levya (Image Credit: Lauren Levya)

Katie: Hey Lauren! How are you?

Lauren: Hi Katie, I’m doing great at the moment; I just started a new job and moved to a new flat, so there is lots of excitement!

K: You’re best known for your successful Instagram and webpage ‘The Starving Student’ – tell us a bit about your alter-ego.

L: The Starving Student is me! (Although technically, now I’m a graduate). The Starving Student aims to provide students and young professionals with recipes, knowledge, and advice to help them become more independent whilst being more sustainable and on a budget. Not only does my Instagram offer this, but over the past year or so I have created weekly meal plans, The Student Manual, and sustainable products through my online shop. Everything is tailored towards creating food that is easy to cook, on a budget and avoids food waste.

K: How did The Starving Student come about?

L: The Starving Student started way back in 2016; however, back then, it was just for my close friends and family. It was in 2020 (during Covid lockdown) when it boomed and grew from about 3000 to around 15k followers. The motivation then changed, and I wanted to spread the word under my own brand name for a much wider audience. I also thought it would be perfect to use my hobby and turn it into a bit of a side hustle too!

Sausage Casserole (Image Credit: Lauren Levya)

K: How did you take something as simple as student living and gain such a large following?

L: Student living is a massive market, and I think my “unfiltered”, genuine approach to create an honest account attracts people. There’s nothing fancy about it; it’s down-to-earth and relatable. My extra focusses on budgeting and sustainable living are two things that have become extremely important to people too, which I imagine has helped growth.

K: What do you offer students?

L: I offer a variety of meaty, fish-based, vegetarian and vegan recipes across breakfasts, lunches, dinners and sweet treats. I also share general food and lifestyle tips. The other key part of my account and website is my shop, where I offer meal plans (with shopping lists, extra tips & recipes), The Student Manual guide for students, and sustainable kitchen products.

Spicy Beans & Baked Sweet Potato (Image Credit: Lauren Levya)

K: What are your favourite recipes to teach others?

L: For a meat dish, I love teaching my Sausage Casserole, and for a vegan option my “go-to” is Squash & Sweetcorn Soup or my Spicy Beans & Sweet Potato dinner recipe. To finish it off, the Banana Cake recipe is a must-bake recipe for a sweet treat.

K: Why do students need services like yours?

L: Learning how to cook healthily on a budget is so important for your independence and is a skill everyone needs for life! To go a bit deeper, knowing exactly what goes into the food you eat by cooking it yourself makes your relationship with food even better.

K: What are your top 5 meal recommendations for students?

L: Simple Tomato Pasta, Sausage Casserole, Mediterranean Baked Fish, Squash & Sweetcorn Soup, Banana Cake.

Banana Cake (Image Credit: Lauren Levya)

K: Where can students find your yummy recipes?

L: @the.starving.student (Instagram)

@thestarvingstudent (TikTok)

We are so grateful to Lauren for taking the time to interview with us and provide us with her top tips for both our incoming and returning students. Not only has she given us some great meals to go away and chef up, but she has shared her incredible knowledge and first-hand experience of how to cater for yourself at uni.

Be sure to follow Lauren on socials and invest in her student meal plans! These great-value plans provide you with step-by-step recipes, shopping lists, and all the additional information you need about the delectable food you will be putting in your body. Likewise, her Instagram is full of mouth-watering content that will keep you inspired and full for days!

Lead image: Lauren Levya (inset: Lauren Levya)

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